Measurement Works

  from Angela Sinickas, ABC


February, 2012

Strategic Planning  

Focus Groups - Surveys Training - Evaluation  


 Sinickas Communications, Inc.   Tel: +1.714.277.4130   FAX: +1.714.242.7049                                             


his issue of Measurement Works focuses on issues related to local vs. global communications, with relevance even for those whose organizations are in only one country, but with different business units. It also includes tips on using surveys to help interpret usage statistics. We hope you consider contributing your own suggestions and stories to share with your peers in future issues. And if you like what you see, please feel free to .


In this issue:

  • Client project: Developing survey questions to connect communication to audience behavior 
  • Tip of the month: Tips for error-free translations 
  • In your opinion:  Results of this newsletter's readership survey; includes tips on how to use survey questions to interpret usage statistics for e-newsletters
  • Sample survey See the actual questions used in the e-newsletter survey to adapt yourself
  • Article: Six key metrics for local/global communication
  • Workshops:  Long Island, New York, Barbados, Austin, Oslo, Chicago, London; Webinars on ROI and measuring your department's infrastructure
  • Online forums: Communicating and promoting employee surveys, the value of pay-per-click ads, surveys to measure communication tools and effective employee listening programs
  • Discounts: $400 off ALI conference in Toronto May 7  


 Six key metrics for managing communication programs

A Sinickas
By Angela Sinickas, ABC  


When corporate-level communicators review their department's performance with executives, they're often asked, "Can you break it down to a few key indicators?" So here are suggestions for six key overall metrics, but also quite a few more measurements that need to be tracked at  a local or unit level in order to know what to do to achieve better overall numbers the next time. The full text of this five-page article (including five graphics from different clients' reports) first appeared in a special report published last year by Melcrum called Optimizing Global/Local Communication.


Six useful overall metrics that could be shared with executives:


(1) The average level of information on a fixed list of key global topics that will be measured repeatedly. However, other metrics that can help identify how to increase information levels include interest levels, volume of information distributed on each topic and reading grade level of information on each topic. 

The average level of (2) access to key global communication vehicles and the average level of (3) usefulness for the same key vehicles. Additional metrics that can identify ways to increase usefulness of each channel include preferred frequency, getting the right volume, usability, and actual usage as measured by online metrics or attendance at meetings. 

The average level of (4) senior leader communication behaviors. These should be related to competencies being rewarded in performance reviews. 

  • Some aspect of the (5) communication function's infrastructure, such as budget, department attrition rate and how staff time is
  • used.
  •  (6)
  • Return on investment for a particular campaign or channel, which can be calculated by focusing on behavior changes.
  • Global or corporate communication leaders may set KPIs for these six aspects of communication management, but if the numbers are lower than desired, one of the best ways to improve those numbers is to focus on local units with the lowest scores and try to adapt best practices from other units with higher-than-average scores on those same metrics. This means that at least some of the metrics for local communicators need to be on the same issues as the global leaders, although their target levels will vary based on their current starting points.   


    So, it is possible to distill many metrics into six key performance indicators. However, without deeper metrics to understand what drives those results by geography or business unit, we shouldn't expect to see much change year after year.  (Read the entire article, with graphics.)                                                                                                              2012-02 Global variations

     Client Project:  

    Connecting communication to stakeholder behaviors

    Mary Hettinger 

    Client: Mary Hettinger, Director, Employee Communications, Iron Mountain  


    Need for research: A few years ago a communications consultant identified that internal communications to Iron Mountain's front line staff needed to be improved. As a result, Iron Mountain hired an internal communication staff, including Mary, to create some new channels and develop sustained messaging, especially in two key areas: the Operational Excellence Program and safety. A communication audit was needed to identify how well the new program was achieving its original goals and to identify possible changes in direction.


    What made this research different: In addition to metrics on the usefulness of channels and understanding levels for key messages, one section of the survey asked to what extent the significant amount of communication on safety caused employees to be more attentive to various safety practices. The slide below shows how many employees overall paid more attention to different safety behaviors (in blue). The yellow bars show that the rates were even higher for certain behaviors in departments where those activities were most likely to occur.


    Results of the research: 93% of employees felt informed about how to stay safe; only 7% felt a little or not at all informed. Also, 77% of supervisors and managers rated the monthly Safety Packs created by Mary and her team as useful. Mary reports that, "The company had a goal to improve our safety incident rate by 8% in 2011; we blew it away with a 23% improvement. We know that our communications played a significant role in this because of the large number of employees who connected their behavior to the communication through this survey question." 
    2012-02 Safety behaviors affected by communication



     In Your Opinion 

    Surveys can help interpret  e-newsletter usage statistics 

    After five issues of this newsletter, we surveyed readers about its value. This article focuses on the questions we asked to help interpret our usage statistics. 
    Survey questions and results are available to adapt for your own e-newsletter research.
    2012-02 Survey vs usage statistics 

    Usage statistics can be highly misleading for e-newsletters using a platform like Constant Contact because of how open rates are calculated. For example, if a reader neither clicks on a photo nor reads it as a Web page, many opens are not captured. In addition, "forwards" are captured only if the reader uses the embedded button; if the entire email is forwarded through the reader's own email system, the "forward" is not counted.


    In addition to traditional "satisfaction" questions about newsletter readership and questions to help assess how accurately the usage statistics reflect how readers are using the newsletter, a number of survey questions focused on the outcomes the newsletter might be achieving: increasing readers' knowledge, changing their attitudes about measurement and changing their own behaviors in using research. 

    2012-02 Impact on attitutes and behaviors


    By conducting the research through SurveyMonkey, instead of using the poll feature within Constant Contact, we identified that 23% of respondents said they had never seen a single issue of the newsletter. This is likely because the Constant Contact domain is blocked by their email systems. We learned that for each person using the forward link, an additional 1.6 forward it to others without using the link. We also learned that the approach taken in this newsletter, with most key points visible without needing to click through, offers the right balance for 77% of readers. The others are split between wanting more or less visible text.


    Finally, usage statistics report how many people click through to a link, but not if the information they find is useful. We included a number of questions to identify how many readers had taken action at work on something they learned. We learned that overall, 97% find the newsletter useful, with 34% saying they have already used some of the information in their jobs.

    Online Forums

    Useful measurement discussions at LinkedIn  

    The Employee Communications and Engagement forum has been sharing dozens of techniques for promoting and communicating employee surveys.
    The Marketing Communications forum is discussing the value of pay-per-click ads.
    IABC members are discussing effective employee listening programs.
    Using surveys to measure communication tools is the topic of a Melcrum forum thread. 
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    Measurement Works:

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    Also see issues focused on specific topics:

    Social Media

    Calculating ROI

    Sample Survey 

    & More Articles 

     Sample Survey for

    Articles Related to
    Main Article


    Tip of the Month

    Translating Surveys 


    Two tips apply to any translation: (1) The translator should be a native speaker of the language being translated into, not the one translated from. (2) A different person should reverse translate back into the original language to identify possible problems in the first translation. For example, in one survey we found that an engagement question about being "proud" of working at the company had been translated into being "arrogant."


    Surveys have some additional translation issues. The labels used on response scales need to be noticeably different from each other so that two options are not too similar. Also, if you use "fair" as an option between "good" and "poor," be sure it has not been translated as a synonym for "just."

    Seminars & Workshops

    In the next few months Angela Sinickas will be conducting training on CEO communication, ROI, electronic channel measurement, and becoming a strategic partner instead of an order-taker.

    (See details & full calendar)


    • Feb. 16, Webinar on creating dashboards (PRSA)
    • Feb. 23, Barbados, CEO Communication Training (Brainwave)
    • Feb. 24, Barbados, Extreme Make-over (Brainwave)
    • March 27, Oslo, getting leaders to listen (Norwegian Communication Association)
    • March 28, Oslo, Extreme make-over from order-taker to strategist (NCA)
    • April 16, by Skype for Alabama PR Association
    • April 18, Measuring ROI (Long Island IABC)
    • April 19, Austin, on measuring PR (Ragan/Whole Foods)
    • May 7, Toronto, Measuring e-Communication (ALI)
    • May 11, NY, metrics for HR intranets (Conference Board)
    • May 22, Webinar on communication's ROI (PRSA)
    • June 12, London, all-day workshop (Melcrum)
    • June 24, Chicago, Extreme make-over from order-taker to strategist (IABC) 


    $400 OFF
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    will offer a $400 discount when you mention Angela Sinickas' name on your registration form for ALI Conferences in 2012 where she is a speaker:


    May 7 in Toronto

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    Measurement Works aspires to be a useful resource for communicators with a need to measure, but without a great deal of time, money or expertise. Please send in any questions you have about research and measurement, and or contribute your own experiences in having conducted measurably successful communications for others to learn from.



    Angela Sinickas, ABC

    Sinickas Communications, Inc.


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    Measurement Works 

    From Angela Sinickas, ABC

    February, 2012